These workshops bring together current and future department leaders with geographers who are administrators from across the country. The focus, so far, has been on aligning department goals with those of their institutions, understanding how effective ways to position geography departments within institutions, and identifying challenges and opportunities for geography in the context of the current political and budgetary climate.
Our first Healthy Departments Workshop with 25 participants was held June 2004 in Seattle and was very well received. Participants received a write-up on our collective work from Vicky Lawson (September AAG newsletter column) and from Dick Marston (Notes on 2004 workshop). At the Seattle workshop we focused on strategic planning and development/fund-raising. We also emphasized a constructive and positive approach to the issues. Chairs learned from each other about successes, and how they were accomplished in specific cases. This workshop dealt with broad issues that strengthen departments such as: 1) aligning the department’s goals with the broader mission of the college and university; 2) understanding the current political and budgetary climate from a Dean’s perspective and understanding how departments can fit with that; 3) investing in strong leadership to take departments through the process of rethinking their mission and making the changes necessary to succeed; 4) engaging in outreach to schools, the state, and local communities; and 5) building strong relationships on campus, making departments and their members key contributors to the larger mission of the institution. The workshop generated specific examples of successful strategies and plans, comparable data for different departments and templates for annual reports. With an emphasis on idea-sharing, there were both formal work sessions and informal networking sessions.
Dick Marston and Alec Murphy organized the second AAG Healthy Departments Workshop, June 25-26th 2005 in Portland, Maine. Panelists included geographers with considerable administrative experience at the department, college, as well as upper administration levels: Joe Wood (Provost, Univ. of Southern Maine), Susan Hanson (Clark Univ.), John Frazier (Binghamton Univ.), Nancy Wilkinson (San Francisco State), Alec Murphy (AAG Past President), Rod Erickson (Provost, Penn State), and Vicky Lawson (AAG Past President).